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The Funeral Oration of Pericles* 

In view of the proximity of Decoration Day, it has 
suggested itself that some reference to the origin of 
the institution of the commemoration of the lives of 
those who have died for their country might be re- 
garded as appropriate. 

If Demosthenes is to be believed, the Athenians 
were the only people of his time who honored those 
who fell in the service of their country by funeral 

The manner in which the Greeks conducted a pub- 
lic funeral is described by Tliucydides (2 35) : "The 
relics of the dead were exposed in a tent, erected for 
the purpose, for three days, during which the rela- 
tives might bring funeral offerings. When the time 
came for burial, the wagons of each tribe bore a 
coffin of cypress wood in which the bones of its slain 
were deposited, and one bier covered with a pall was 
carried in commemoration of the missing. Anyone, 
citizen or alien, might join the procession, and women 
who were related to the dead were present to lament 
them. The remains were placed in a public tomb in 
the most beautiful suburb of the city — the Ceramicus 
— and an orator expressly chosen by the senate 
pronounced the funeral speech". From the epitaphioi 
of Lysias, Plato and Demosthenes, we learn that 
sacrifices were offered and games celebrated in honor 
of the event. 

The two earliest funeral orations to which any 
historical allusion is made ajre the work of Pericles. 
The first was delivered by him in honor of the citi- 
zens who fell before Samos in a war concluded 440 
B C. The second is reported by Thucydides and 
purports to have been delivered in honor of those 
who fell in the Peloponnesian war. Whether we re- 
gard the Thucydidean version as the actual speech 
of Pericles, or as a graphic description of the Athe- 
nian public policy put by Thucydides into the mouth 
of Pericles for purposes of dramatic art, we must be 
struck by the close parallel which the speech sustains 
in tone and sentiment to present-day conditions and 
events in our own country. Leaving out of consid- 
eration the national boasting, which unfortunately is 
one of the points of parallelism with the American 
national character, it is to be doubted whether we 
may not be forced to regard the tone of its public 
policy as rather in advance of that yet possible in 
modern times. 

I submit the following as a condensed translation, 
in the making of which I have freely taken from all 
sources accessible. I have endeavored, however, to 
reproduce the conciseness of Thucydides, together 
with his well-known antithetical style. 

The following summary could be appropriately util- 
ized for morning exercises in schools, by assigning the 
different paragraphs for recitation to pupils selected 
for the purpose: 

(Thuc. 2 35-46) 
I Epainos— Chaps 35-43 

(a) Proomion Chap 35 

Chap 35 Heretofore, orators on like occasions have 
commended the institutional origin of the funeral 
panegyric. To myself, however, a public burial 
would have seemed preferable to entrusting the vir- 
tues of many men to the eloquence of one. There is 
danger to the orator of overstating the case so far 
as that auditor is concerned who is ignorant of the 
facts, while to the well-informed hearer justice does 

*A compilation of mine on the general subject may be found in 
77ie Kansas University Quarterly for April, 1896, under the head- 
ing : " A Study of the Type of the Greek Epitaphios with Special 
Reference to the Oration in Thucydides ", 

not seem to be done to the valor of the dead. Disbe- 
lief and envy are excited in those whose own valor 
is surpassed by that of the eulogized. I shall, how- 
ever, conform to law and custom and endeavor to 
meet your approbation. 

(b) Prothesis Chap 36 
Chap 36 I shall begin with just praise of our an- 
cestors as is but fitting, seeing that they have handed 
down to us a country always inhabited by the same 
race — an empire which our immediate forefathers 
augmented and to which we ourselves have made 
additions, until it is now in good trim for either 
peace or war. But our present and past victories 
over Barbarian or Greek are too well known to need 
rehearsal here. I shall rather point out by what iii- 
stitutions we have risen to empire — and our civil 
policy which is the cause of our greatness. Such 
topics, I take it, are not unsuitable to the present oc- 

ca.sion. „, - ..^ - ^, 

Tn Tufv Aarivav Chaps 37-41 

Chap 37 In our form of government we are not 
imitators, but set the pattern for others. We are a 
democracy. Equality is at the basis of our laws, 
merit at the basis of our public preferment. The 
poor and the rich have an equal chance to contribute 
to the public weal, as well as to enjoy the honors in 
the gift of the state. The same spirit pervades 
throughout the private life of our citizens and we 
render cheerful obedience both to the written laws of 
the state and to the unwritten laws of society. 

Chap 38 We are public spirited also, in that the 
celebration of games and festivals, the public and 
private entertainments, lighten the public heart. Nor 
are we limited in the enjoyment of luxuries. Such 
is our greatness that the best productions are brought 
to us from every quarter of the globe (world). 

Chap 39 We differ from our enemies in military 
matters. We do not deny to strangers free access 
to our city in order to conceal our resources. Cour- 
age in action and not cunning in stratagem is our de- 
fense. The (Lacedaimonians rely upon the severity 
of their military discipline to develop manly courage. 
An easy mode of life does not unfit the Athenian 
courage for valorous deeds. They form a confed- 
eracy to attack us; we defeat them unassisted and 
on their own ground. No enemy has yet encountered 
our united forces — ^yet they complain of defeat as if 
caused by our whole strength, and boast of victory 
as if over ovir entire armament. The inborn courage 
of our disposition and not that acquired by institu- 
tion frees us from appi-ehension for the future and 
makes us prepared for all exigencies. 

Chap 40 Our city is also to be admired for its cul- 
tivation of philosophy unmixed with effeminacy. We 
regard riches as a means to an end, not as an occa- 
sion for boasting. We account shiftlessness and not 
poverty disgraceful. Private business and domestic 
cares do not prevent our citizens from being well in- 
formed in public affairs. He who neglects the state 
is useless to the state. The measures we adopt are 
the result of discussion and political sagacity. In 
the case of other states, ignorance is the basis of 
their courage only to be undermined by reflection. 
We gain our friends not by receiving benefits, but by 
conferring obligations. He who does you a favor 
will be more likely to do you another than he whom 
you yourself have favored, for the kindness he re- 
turns will not be esteemed a favor but regarded as 
a debt. Our generosity springs not from the calcula- 
tions of interest, but from the confidence of liberality. 

Chap 41 In short, Athens is the school of Greece. 


Every Athenian possesses that individuality and ver- 
satility which enables him to adapt himself to what- 
ever circumstances, and that with grace. The truth 
of this is attested by the present power of our city 
which is the result of these very qualities. Our state 
alone is greater than report. Our enemies experi- 
ence no chagrin when defeated by such opponents, 
while our subjects do not complain that we are un- 
worthy of empire. We need no Homer to attest our 
power to future ages, to which we shall always be 
the theme of admiration — made so by monuments of 
our deeds left on every land and sea. It was for such 
a country that these men fought and fell, and in such 
a cause they well deserve the emulation of us all. 

Ta Toni a.no6av6vT6n> 

Chap 42 I have thus praised Athens to show that 
the contest between us and our enemies is not for 
equal stakes ; and so indirectly to establish the worth 
of our fallen heroes whose valor has adorned the 
city with all that makes it the theme of my encomi- 
ums. Their courage is evinced by their glorious 
death. Their faults as private citizens are effaced 
by their public services. They did not hesitate to 
meet dang:er that they might enjoy their wealth or 
escape their poverty. To the enjoyment and attain- 
ment of riches they preferred vengeance on their 
country's foes. They preferred the safety of the 
state purchased by their death to personal safety at 
the price of submission. Thus with their bodies they 
bore the brunt of battle and perished at the height of 

II Theenos — Chap 43 

Chap 43 You who have survived them may pray 
for a safer career, but greater courage you need not 
desire. It is yours to become enamored of your 
city's grandeur and to be mindful of that valor by 
which it was attained. The sepulchers of the dead 
are in the memories of the living. The whole earth 
is the tomb of the illustrious. Their virtues are not 
alone inscribed on perishable stone in their own 
country, but are written on the eternal tablets of 
the heart in all lands. Emulate their noble example, 
account happiness liberty, and liberty valor. Remem- 
ber that it is not the unfortunate that should be most 
unsparing of their lives, but the prosperous as well 
who have most at stake. For to the high-minded 
death is less grievous than adversity. 

III Paramythia— Chaps 44-46 

Chap 44 To the parents of the departed, I do not 
oflfer condolence but consolation, for as theirs was 
the noblest death, so yours is the noblest sorrow. 
Yet it is difficult to comfort those who have learned 
by experience to prize the blessings they have lost. 
To those of you who are young comes the hope of 
other offspring with which to bury your sorrow and 
enrich the state. To the old is offered the remem- 
brance of past happiness and the luster given to the 
remainder of their lives by the glory attained by their 
children. For honor never grows old. In the declin- 
ing years of life, it is not so much gain that glad- 
dens, as honor and respect. 

Chap 45 To you, the sons and brothers of the slain, 
belongs the contest of emulation. For no one refuses 
justice to departed merit, and though you surpass 
them you will not be thought equal. The envy of 
competition ceases only with the death of its object, 
whereas the merit which obstructs noone is honored 
with a zeal unmixed with jealous rivalry. To the 
widows, let me say, it wiU be your greatest glory to 

guard the virtue of your sex and to become the 
theme of conversation among men as little as possible. 
Chap 46 The tribute of words has now been of- 
fered to the dead. The tribute of deeds is this public 
funeral, and the maintenance and education of their 
children at the country's expense will be a just and 
liberal reward. Where the rewards of virtue are the 
most liberal, there are found the best citizens. And 
now let each of you take a sad farewell of the de- 
ceased and depart in peace. David H Holmes 

PROSPECTUS (1901-1902) 

To Whom it May Concern: 

An editorial committee of Latin teachers from 
the High Schools in New York City will begin on 
Oct I, 1901, the publication of the second volume of 
The New York Latin Leaflet, a small four-page 
weekly sheet devoted primarily to the discussion of 
Latin or Greek topics touching the secondary field 
of Latin and Greek instruction. The above name 
has been selected, since Latin will naturally continue 
to be the predominant feature. On the editorial 
committee and among the contributors are now rep- 
resentatives from seven of the New York High 
Schools, from The Normal College, The College of 
the City of New York, The Brooklyn Latin School, 
The Teachers' College, The Packer Collegiate Insti- 
tute, Adelphi College, The New York University, 
Columbia University and the College Entrance Ex- 
amination Board. Other local institutions will be 
represented as the work of organization goes on. This 
arrangement not only makes the editorial quotient 
small, but insures that the matter for publication 
will be of a reasonably high order; and, while an 
effort will be made to keep closely to the practical, 
no bar will be placed to contributions from any source 
bearing on the classics, which the narrow limits of 
the publication will admit. For instance, during the 
past year notable contributions have been made by 
Professor Bennett of Cornell University and Profess- 
or Hale of Chicago University. The size of the lit- 
tle publication is indicated by this prospectus. To 
secure effectiveness, it will appear weekly during 25 
weeks of the school year. 

Owing to the extremely narrow constituency which 
such a technical publication as this will naturally 
command, the editorial committee has seen fit to 
give the paper a practical goal, such as the estab- 
lishment of a High School College Entrance Scholar- 
ship Fund, to which every penny over and above the 
expenses of the publication will be devoted. It has 
been thought wisest to place all the money secured, 
at the end of each year, in the hands of Trustees. 
Consequently, Mr Arthur S Somers of the Central 
Board of Education and Dr William E Waters of 
the College Entrance Examination Board have kind- 
ly consented to take charge of this Fund in trust. 

All the labor involved, except the mechanical labor 
of printing, is to be a labor of love. To pay the ex- 
penses of publication, however, three columns will 
be open to advertising, and already assurances have 
been given for enough high class advertisements to 
vouchsafe for all expenses for another year in ad- 
vance. Thus the financial part of the undertaking 
has been made as solid as a rock. This leaves all 
money in the shape of subscriptions to the paper 
sacred to the Scholarship Fund. An attempt will be 
made to secure a permanent Fund of six thousand 
($6000) dollars, which will yield, say, three hundred 
($300) dollars, for an annual award. The Latin 
Leaflet will have as a second object, then, the estab-